• Weird History

10 Brutal Facts About The Harsh Russian Winter That Stops All Military Invasions

List RulesVote up the facts about Russian winters that make you shiver.

The brutal Russian Winter (sometimes called "General Winter" or "General Frost") shaped history as we know it. The sub-zero temperatures of the country have led to a unique infrastructure, shaped Russian culture, and even toppled foreign empires.

The Russian people have found a way to not only survive these terrible winters, but also use them to their advantage. No invasion of the country has ever succeeded, and attempts have led to the downfall of more than one superpower.

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    Your Skin Will Freeze In About 10 Minutes

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    If you were curious what the average temperature is for Russian Winter, it's between about -30 and -50 degrees Celsius, or -22 and -58 degrees Fahrenheit. To put this in perspective, you can get frostbite in 30 minutes at just -19 degrees Fahrenheit. At -60, exposed skin can freeze in as little as 10 minutes.

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    The Nazis Had To Fight In Russia With No Cold Weather Gear

    Photo: Wilhelm Gierse / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-3.0

    Because Hitler's men thought they weren't going to be fighting in Russia long, they didn't bother to provide their troops with winter gear. That meant no coats, gloves, or snow boots. By the time those things were essential to the war effort, Third Reich supply lines had vanished due to lack of working vehicles and the fact that the roads were frozen over. That meant no extra supplies for many men, including the warm clothing they needed to survive. An Italian journalist in Russia, Curzio Malaparte, told of stories in which German soldiers' eyelides had frozen and fallen off and many had lost their hair from the extreme cold.

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    Napoleon's Soldiers Crawled Inside Their Dead Horses For Warmth

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    When Napoleon's invasion of Russia took a turn for the worse, thousands of soldiers and horses were dying every day. Those who wanted to survive cut their animals open and stayed inside their bodies for shelter against the freezing temperatures surrounding them. 

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    Napoleon's Invasion Force Got So Cold They Used Corpses For Insulation

    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Having an army in below-freezing temperatures means many soldiers will die from exposure; however, those bodies will freeze solid and won't become disease-ridden any time soon. As a result, many French soldiers in Napoleon's invading force used the bodies of their fallen comrades as insulation to keep them warm. They would pile them up over the windows of their dwellings to help keep the cold away. 

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